By Melody Vallieu
PLEASANT HILL — If you think sesquicentennial is a mouthful, imagine planning the events surrounding the 150th birthday of Pleasant Hill.
But Ruthann Beck, along with her co-chair, Steve Patton, have taken on the challenge.
Beck said plans for the Pleasant Hill Sesquicentennial Celebration, scheduled for June 25, are going great, and the village’s birthday celebration will be chockful of fun, food, entertainment and history.
Beck, who was born in Pleasant Hill and attended high school at Newton, said the village was incorporated in 1866, and organizers wanted to have a summer event to be able to celebrate the village’s long history outdoors.
She said the event will begin at 9 a.m. June 25 with a re-dedication at the monument with the of Sons of the Union Veterans of the Civil War from the Dayton Major General William T. Sherman Camp No. 93. Beck said this is the same group that came to Troy’s Lincoln Funeral Train event in 2015. Beck said the monument was erected in 1895 in honor of the 12 fallen Pleasant Hill soldiers, many buried in unknown graves.
Beck said the celebration is a year in the planning, and organizers are excited for the community to come out and support the event they have put together.
“I just hope there is a big turnout and everyone wants to celebrate what it is like to live in a small community,” Beck said.
Beck and her husband, Bill, both Merchant Marines, moved from Pleasant Hill and owned a scuba diving charter in Michigan and then moved to Florida where both worked for a school district. They came home after retirement and moved back onto her family’s farm.
“We retired and then went north, the opposite of everyone else,” she said, jokingly.
The couple have a son, Jason Beck of Michigan, and a daughter, Janel Hodges of Pleasant Hill, along with three grandsons.
Beck said her family has a lineage traced back to the second settler in Pleasant Hill. She said her seven times great-grandfather Marmaduke Coate actually thought he was the first settler — until he ran into the actual one. History says the first road was made between the two men’s homes in the village, according to Beck.
Beck also has served as the chairperson for the Newton Alumni events for the last seven years, and said she enjoys volunteering in her community.
Other plans for the June event include a parade through downtown, where the two oldest people in the village — Beck’s mother Ruby Coate, who will be 100 this summer, and Gerald “Jar” Davis, 96, will be the grand marshals.
The afternoon will be filled with family-friendly events, including a fire department chicken barbecue, other food vendors, a cruise-in with a disc jockey and “dancing in the streets,” Beck said.
Three large tents will be set up for the event, one with a stage and seating for entertainment, such as the pet parade, crowning of Little Miss and Mr. of Pleasant Hill, a Civil War speaker, performances by Newton students and portrayals of historic townspeople, she said. There also will be a dog agility course for the four-legged friends to compete in, she said.
“One high school student will portray his great-great-grandfather, Jesse Beery,” said Beck, who said she is thankful to the Elizabeth Township Historical Center for the donation of a collection of vintage clothes for the parade and re-enactors.
Another tent will hold arts and crafts with all locally made items for sale, she said.
The Pleasant Hill History Center will offer historical displays of early history, and there will be a 40-foot display of Civil War artifacts at the celebration.
“It will include everything about life of the soldier, what he carried in his knapsack when he went into battle, his artillery, and what the home life was like for the wives and daughters that were left behind when the men were going to war,” said Beck, who said this group also was at Troy’s Lincoln Funeral Train events.
Games for all ages — from an apple-peeling contest to nail driving — are in the works, Beck said. A rolling pin toss, kick the can, adult and youth sack races, and tug-of-war also are on tap.
“Some of the old-time games people used to do,” she said.
The Southern Ohio Flying K9s will offer two performances during the day, and the culmination of the event will be a concert by the Christian rock band City of Bright out of St. Marys, she said.
Organizers also will be selling the new history book, the “Pictorial History of Pleasant Hill,” along with Cat’s Meows of the monument.
“It has some new pictures that haven’t been seen before. Some of the old houses, old businesses,” Beck said.
In the end, Beck said the community members enjoy the tiny village’s 150th birthday celebration.
“My hope for the festival is that the community comes together to remember those that have walked the streets of Pleasant Hill before us and to enjoy what this little village means to so many of us that call this place home,” she said.
Reach Melody Vallieu at (937) 552-2131 or email at [email protected]